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Rental seekers with foreign-sounding names get fewer callbacks from landlords: study

Rent seekers with foreign-sounding names receive fewer calls from landlords

Text on a blackboard. Credit: Cottonbro, Pexels, CC0 (creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/)

In Sweden, a study in which fictitious job applications were sent in response to real home advertisements found that male applicants with foreign-sounding names were called back less than male applicants with names that indicate Swedish ethnicity. Hemrin Molla and colleagues from the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, present these findings in the open-access journal PLOS ONE on June 8, 2022.

Previous research around the world shows that ethnic discrimination can occur in housing markets, with potentially serious consequences, such as unequal employment opportunities. Such discrimination has been observed in Sweden, but most research in this country has focused solely on Swedish and Arabic/Muslim-sounding names. In addition, the demand for housing in Sweden has increased in recent years and the number of immigrants has increased rapidly.

To deepen the understanding of ethnic discrimination in the Swedish housing market, Molla and colleagues sent a randomly selected pair of false rental applications in response to each of the 620 randomly selected apartment advertisements. All the applications gave an equal impression that the applicant was highly educated and “well-educated”, but the names of the fictitious male apartment seekers were chosen to denote one of four ethnic backgrounds: Swedish, Eastern European, East Asian and Arab/Muslim. The researchers tracked which requests were called back from landlords who offered the apartment or showed an interest in doing so.

Statistical analysis of the callback rates showed that fictitious applicants with names indicating Swedish ethnicity – the dominant ethnic group in Sweden – received significantly more callbacks than applicants with foreign-sounding names. Candidates with an East European or East Asian sounding name got a similar number of callbacks to each other, and those with an Arabic/Muslim sounding name got even fewer callbacks.

The researchers compared these results with previous research in Sweden, which found that the Swedish housing market has not improved over the past decade for applicants with Arabic/Muslim sounding names.

These findings could contribute to further efforts to reduce housing discrimination in Sweden. Further research could examine additional factors, such as discrimination among female renters.

The authors add: “Eastern European, East Asian and especially Arabic/Muslim-sounding names yielded significantly lower callback rates than names indicating membership of the dominant ethnic group – ethnic Swedes. Comparisons with the article by Ahmed et al. (2010) show that the situation for a male person with an Arabic/Muslim-sounding name in Sweden has not improved over the past decade.”


Swedish research shows that applicants with foreign names get much less responses


More information:
Name Matters! The cost of having a foreign-sounding name in the Swedish private housing market, PLoS ONE (2022). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0268840

Provided by Public Library of Science


Quote: Tenant seekers with foreign-sounding names are less called back by landlords: survey (2022, June 8) retrieved June 9, 2022 from https://phys.org/news/2022-06-rental-seekers-foreign-sounding-callbacks- landlords .html

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